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Prev Med. 2014 May;62:49-53. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.02.004. Epub 2014 Feb 9.

U.S. clinicians' perspectives on less frequent routine gynecologic examinations.

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  • 1Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Northwest, 3800 N. Interstate Avenue, Portland, OR 97227, USA; Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. Electronic address:
  • 2Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.



With newer recommendations for less frequent cervical cancer screening, longer intervals between routine gynecologic examinations might also be considered.


A nationally representative mailed survey of U.S. obstetrician-gynecologists (n=521, response rate 62%) was conducted in 2010-11. Clinicians were asked their views on annual gynecologic examinations and on the consequences of extending the interval from annually to every 3 years for asymptomatic patients.


Over two-thirds considered annual gynecologic examination very important for women in their reproductive years (69%); fewer consider it very important for women in menopause (55%). Most anticipated that shifting examinations to every 3 years would result in lower patient satisfaction (78%), contraceptive provision (74%), and patient health and well-being (74%). Decreases in clinic volume (93%) and financial reimbursement (78%) were also expected. Anticipated effects of longer intervals varied by provider characteristics, geography, and practice setting.


Obstetrician-gynecologists in the U.S. believed that longer intervals between routine examinations would have negative repercussions for patients and medical practice, but there were differences by region, practice, and personal characteristics. Redefining annual gynecologic visits as contraceptive counseling and health maintenance visits could address financial and patient volume concerns, and perspectives from patients and other providers might reveal possible benefits of less frequent gynecologic examinations.


National survey; Preventive health care; Primary care providers; Reproductive health; Routine gynecologic examination; Women's primary health care

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